Japan is one of the most popular holiday destinations for other Asian countries. My first trip to Japan was back in 1997, when I was 3 and the most recent trip is from last summer. I’ve travel to Japan 5 times already, it’s a country that I never get bored of: with varieties of cultures like anime or sub culture like adult industry; Combination of big city like Tokyo and rural city like Hokkaido; Last but not least, best food that word can’t describe and nowhere else to compare of. I planned most of the trip on my own(well, except the one when I was 3 obviously), I won’t say I’m an expert but here are some tips I summed up with for the trip to Japan:
1. Pick a City
First you have to think of what kind of trip are you looking for.
Are you looking for a trip with group of friends having a fun time? Or you fancy about Japanese pop culture? Planning to get a full luggage of Japanese souvenir? If your answer is yes I’d suggest you going to big city in the west part of Japan like Tokyo or Osaka. You can get pretty much everything there that full of energetic vibes!
Are you looking for a trip more relaxing and closer to nature? Chilling in a hot spring or visiting traditional temple? Watching autumn leaf or spring sakura? If yes, I’d say the ideal destination for a comforting or bit more luxurious trip is to the middle of Japan like Gifu or Miyagi region.
If you are looking for some water sports in the summer or simply freshly caught seafood for sushi and sashimi, regions next to the sea like Hokkaido or Kyushu would be the best kind of cities.
2. How long should I go?
If you’re going for the first time not for a deep encounter of the country, 5-7 days is good enough for 1-2 regions. If you are going for a 2 weeks trip, 4-5 regions can be accomplish. You can simply plan a return trip or an en route from one airport to another, since there’s domestic airport in each regions.
Sample itinerary for 2 weeks(summer 2015):
Day 1 Arrived Osaka
Day 2 Day trip to Kobe
Day 3 Day trip to Wakayama
Day 4 Osaka
Day 5 Universal Studio Japan
Day 6 Nara
Day 7-9 Nagoya
Day 10-12 Kyoto
Day 13-15 Osaka
3. Languages and Cultures
This is the question that people most concern. Do Japanese speak English? Well, not really. Please don’t expect them to understand English especially in small city or non tourist attractions but that’s not a problem at all. I knew some basic Japanese word but most of my conversations in Japan is conducted in body gestures or even I drew them out! Once I was talking to an old lady in a market about the town she lives in for 10 minutes in body language.
You will probably receive the best customer service in Japan. People are polite and prompt. Try to be polite as well and check what is being rude or offensive in Japan. Be respect and open heart.
4. Estimate spending
Is depends on your style of travel really. For me, I’m up for a budget travel, I rather save up from accommodation for activities and food(I’m pretty sure no one can resist of Japanese food). A 2 weeks trip to Osaka for me, I spend around 1000 pounds for the whole trip including flights, hotels, transportation, attractions tickets and souvenir.
Food in Japan is pretty cheap, and really decent. A meal from convenient store or fast food restaurant is like 3-5 quid. Even set meal in proper restaurant is like 10 quid. Well, I never went to a really luxury one so I can’t tell the maximum. The most thing I spent on is buying snacks as souvenir back to Hong Kong.
Japan has well developed transportation. It’s easy to travel by rails and well scheduled buses. It’s easy to rent a car for self drive trip. If you’re travelling in a bigger group, there’s company offering personalize minibus tour services as well.
Beware that there are few rail companies running in Japan, which mean you need to check carefully which rail are you taking and it can be confusing sometimes. And they use the same platform for different trains route as well.
Additional tips for travelling in Japan
-Get a Travel pass/ Rail pass: There are passes for travelling in Japan for specific regions. The travel pass may covered inner or near city transports and attractions that can be use for a short trip. If you are going for a longer trip to few cities, rail pass is great for saving up for individual trains ticket, that valid to redeem up to numbers of trains trip.
-Food reduction: There are lots of big supermarkets that have large hot food session. Japanese is aimed at high quality of their good that they never keep food overnight . Every day after 4pm, the price of hot food started to reduce up to 60% off!
Stay tuned for this week’s Japan trip update!
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